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Robbery - Types Of Behavior

robberies reported united purse

Robbery includes a wide variety of behavior ranging from opportunistic schoolyard shakedowns to carefully planned multimillion-dollar thefts from Brink's or the London–Glasgow train.

In the United States about half of the robberies committed are never reported to the police. Of those that are reported more than half involve some kind of weapon, most commonly the handgun. As many as a fifth of all robberies may result in some injury. Most injuries are minor, however, and serious hospitalization is infrequent. Death is even rarer, occurring less than once in every 200 reported robberies. Even so, robbery is involved in about a tenth of all homicides.

In the United States about two-fifths of all reported robberies are of commercial enterprises, and the remaining three-fifths are of individuals. About a tenth of the total are robberies of persons in their residences. In some of these situations a burglar caught in the act uses force or fear against the householder; in others, a robbery was intended from the start, and force or fear was used to gain entry.

In the United States, men are robbed more often than women, partly because of the legal distinctions that place most purse-snatches in the category of thefts from the person rather than in that of robbery. This distinction is also relevant to the argument as to whether the elderly suffer disportionately from robberies. If measured by the total population, and with purse-snatches excluded, the elderly do not appear to be particularly vulnerable. If purse-snatches are included, however, the elderly (particularly in inner cities) do appear to be a high-risk group.

Two-thirds or more of the robberies in the United States are stranger-to-stranger crimes. In robberies involving friends or acquaintances, one party often attempts to resolve an argument over money or property by force, as when a poker player uses a gun to seize disputed winnings, or an employee forcibly demands extra pay. Although these situations are generally classified in criminal statistics as robberies, the taking is often made under a claim of right that is legally sufficient to negate the robbery charge. As a consequence, there are few convictions for robbery in these circumstances.

Other robberies arise out of brief relationships such as those engendered by hitchhiking, prostitution, and drug-dealing. In these situations both parties are vulnerable to attack, often with impunity, because the victim is reluctant to make his illicit purposes known to the police. Unreported robberies tend to be less serious than reported ones; significant numbers involve robberies of teenagers by other teenagers.

Robbery is largely an urban crime, and generally increases with the size of the city. Reported rates vary enormously from country to country. In the United States they are generally eight to ten times as great as in England or Europe, and thirty or more times greater than in Japan.

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